first post here, after being gradually sucked into this very informative forum. I have certainly not read or digested everything yet, so I'm holding back on questions that have probably been answered many times.
There is one brand that I know and have bought from several times that I do not see mentioned anywhere however : Fischer-Bargoin. A bit of context : I am french, living in France at the time, and a simple home cook becoming increasingly passionate about it. In France, Fischer-Bargoin seems mostly distributed among professionals, as I see their products in many butcher and fishmonger shops. This lead me to look into their product range, and I was surprised to discover that they were outrageously cheap compared to my expectations. They are however not very easy to come by, and maybe they aren't mentioned on CT because they are not distributed widely enough (or, because I couldn't find the related posts?).
My experience with knives is yet small : I own a set of Arcos Saeta knives, bought as a 7 piece combo at a sale. I think the steel is reasonably good, better than what I find in most usual households, but I have come to hate the handles, which can give me blisters in less than an hour of work. A couple times a year, I do some heavy duty cutting : a couple full roasted lambs in summer, a full pig in winter. On the latter occasions, I work an entire day with the knife and my Arcos were killing me. My first buy with Fischer-Bargoin was a "bleeding knife" (direct translation from french), a sort of sturdy deboner (this guy : http://media1.couteauxduchef.com/14860-large_default/couteau-a-saigner-14cm-manche-rouge-bargoin.jpg). The 15€ knife I received was perfect for the job, I loved the sturdy plastic handle and, given a lot of honing, it worked very well all day long. I also got some small paring knives, which have very flexible blades but are awesome little tools, especially for 2€50 a piece!
Recently, I needed to equip the kitchen of a sailboat, so I didn't want to spend any money on something that would probably rust in a couple of months. I then realized that Fischer-Bargoin also made more kitchen oriented knives (including the so-called 'creative chef' line, with colorful plastic handles), and not just specialized butcher knives. I bought this 20 cm chef knife (sorry, the site is in french): http://www.hubert-online.fr/CDE.108899/Couteau-de-cuisine-longueur-200-cm-noir-Fischer-Bargoin.html. The knife I received really impressed me : for under 15€, I found that good feeling handle again, I liked the balance and the profile... I was actually jealous of this knife compared to my 80€ Saeta chef knife!
I don't know much about the steel, except that these are made in Thiers. Their website only mentions that they use "french steel"... The fact that I see many professionals use it tells me that it must have some good properties, but then a butcher probably does not have the same needs as a chef. After a couple hours of use I feel like this steel is quite soft, and needs a lot of honing. This makes sense to me, since I see professional butchers hone all the time. This could mean that a conclusion is that they are good for specific uses, but not for an all around chef knife that might be used extensively...?
Looking forward to any enlightened views on the subject!